On the 21st of September, the students of Christs Hospital were extremely fortunate to get a visit from the brilliant British Space Scientist and Science Educator, Dr. Maggie Aderin Pocock. The whole school listened to an informative and captivating talk by her, which was about exploring space and then contributed in a mini  Q&A session at the end which allowed students to ask questions about her work, research, and background. The students were lucky to have an insight on how she used her love of physics to make a career for herself and her vital involvement in developing major satellites and launching telescopes. She also talked about space dust, and shared interesting facts which intrigued the students. Dr. Pocock has many notable achievements including: establishing the Science Innovation Ltd,  being president of the British Science Association and hosting BBC Sky at night and CBeebies Stargazing. She has also published three science books, with more to come! Christs Hospital were very honoured to have such an influential scientist and Black woman on their grounds.

The percentages of women, specifically Black women, working in STEM and more particularly physics is statistically low. The ‘Physics Today’ magazine shows that only 4% of Black women get a physics bachelor’s degree and 3% for an astronomy degree. A few students bravely addressed this concerning figure with Dr. Pocock during the Q and A, and she reassured the students that no matter their race or gender, they should pursue their dreams, and used herself as an example. Dr. Pocock stated that she suffered from dyslexia and did not like school much because despite her brightness, she was put in a remedial class. She even expressed that “A government statistician would have forecast a pretty bleak future for me.” With support from her father and hard work she was able to push through and pursue her life-long aspiration. Being a Black girl with learning difficulties was not going to stop her! Many students found this relatable and a Year 13 student currently studying physics stated, “Seeing representation of a Black women was very touching for me. I have always wanted to study Physics in the future, but I never see anyone who looks like me becoming successful. I was in awe of Dr. Pocock’s achievements, and this truly inspired me.”  Dr. Pocock is a firm believer in promoting STEM amongst minority groups and has visited other schools alongside CH to challenge misconceptions about science-based careers and gender disparities.

The most fascinating thing about the talk was when the students were shown a picture of the Barbie doll that was made for Dr. Pocock. The Mattel company had produced a line for Barbie Role Models, and she was specifically chosen to be featured in it, which impressed the students! The barbie doll even came with her own mini telescope, which was incredibly significant to Dr. Pocock. Overall, the talk proved to be successful and impactful to the students, an event they will never forget.